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Concussions and Mental Health: Finding the Connection

dr shukla neurologist tx
Medically reviewed by Dr. Shukla
dr shukla neurologist tx
Medically reviewed by Dr. Shukla

Concussions are a common type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). They often result from sports injuries, accidents, or falls. They are typically considered mild compared to more severe TBIs. But trauma can have a significant impact on mental health.

In this guide, we will explore the relationship between concussions and mental health. We will examine the types, their signs, and long-term effects. We will also address the question of whether a trauma can cause mental illness and discuss prevention and treatment options.

So, join us and let’s get all the valuable information about this condition. 

Concussions and Mental Health

Trauma occurs when a blow to the head or a violent shaking of the head causes the brain to move inside the skull. This sudden movement can result in various neurological and cognitive signs. These traumas are generally considered less severe than other forms of TBI. But they can still have profound effects on mental health.

Types of Concussions

Let’s consider brain damage types before focusing on mental illness:

  • Grade 1. This is the mildest form. It’s often characterized by no loss of consciousness, transient confusion, and signs that typically resolve within 15 minutes.
  • Grade 2. It involves signs like confusion and amnesia. They can last longer than 15 minutes. Loss of consciousness may or may not occur.
  • Grade 3. The most severe type. It’s characterized by a loss of consciousness. It often lasts for more than a minute. It’s along with significant confusion and post-traumatic amnesia.
  • Sports-Related Traumas. They can range from mild to severe.
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS). A condition where concussion signs persist for weeks or months after the initial injury.
  • Complex Trauma. Involves many and overlapping signs. They’re often requiring specialized care and a longer recovery period This concussion can even cause mental illness.
  • Repeat Trauma. Occurs when a person experiences multiple traumas over time. It can lead to cumulative effects and an increased risk of long-term consequences.
  • Subconcussive Hits. Repeated minor head impacts. They’re often seen in contact sports. It may not result in immediate signs. But it can contribute to long-term brain health issues.

Symptoms

Brain injuries and mental health problems can manifest a wide range of signs. They can vary in severity and duration. Common signs include:

  • Headache. A persistent or severe headache is a hallmark sign of a concussion. It can be accompanied by sensitivity to light and noise.
  • Confusion. Concussed individuals may feel disoriented. And they have trouble concentrating or remembering events surrounding the injury.
  • Nausea and Vomiting. Many people with concussions experience nausea and may vomit shortly after the injury.
  • Balance Problems. Some individuals struggle with balance and coordination, making walking or standing difficult.
  • Mood Changes. Emotional signs can include irritability, anxiety, and depression. These mood changes can be particularly concerning. Besides brain damage, they have an impact on mental health leading to illness.
  • Fatigue. Fatigue and sleep disturbances are common. Some individuals sleep excessively while others have trouble sleeping.
  • Memory Issues. Short-term memory problems are common, with individuals often forgetting recent events or conversations.
  • Sensitivity to Stimuli. Light and noise sensitivity can exacerbate headaches and discomfort.
  • Visual Disturbances. Blurred or double vision can occur, impacting a person’s ability to read or focus.

Long-term Effects on Mental Health

Brain damage and mental illness are closely connected. The concussion can have the effects on mental health:

  • Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS). PCS is when concussion signs last for weeks or months after the injury. It can cause ongoing headaches, mood changes, and problems with thinking. It can lead to anxiety and depression.
  • Increased Mental Health Risk. People who’ve had concussions are more likely to develop mental health issues. They’re anxiety, depression, and PTSD. We’re still studying how this happens, but changes in the brain from the concussion might be a factor.
  • Memory and Focus Problems. Some people may have trouble with memory and concentrating after a concussion. It affects their daily life and well-being. 
  • Suicidal Thoughts. In severe cases, those with a history of concussions might have thoughts of suicide. It’s crucial to offer them the right support and mental health care.

MRI scan

Brain Injuries and Mental Health

Concussions are just one type of brain injury. And other forms of TBI can also have profound effects on mental health. The severity of these effects often depends on the extent of the brain injury. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Moderate to Severe TBIs. People are more likely to have lasting problems with thinking. This can include memory issues, mood swings, and even severe depression or anxiety.
  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a brain disease linked to repeated head injuries, often seen in contact sports. It can cause serious problems with thinking and emotions. These brain injuries and mental health problems are aggression, depression, and dementia.
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases. Some studies suggest TBIs might raise the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. These diseases can have a big impact on mental health.
  • Treating Challenges. Helping people with mental health issues from brain injuries can be hard. It might need a mix of treatments. They’re therapy, rehab, and medication to handle their signs effectively.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Mental Health

A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can affect mental health. When one gets a TBI, it messes up how the brain works. This can cause problems with how a person thinks and feels.

Many people with TBI end up feeling depressed. They might also feel worried and scared, which is anxiety. Sometimes, TBI can even make you have bad memories and nightmares. It’s a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If the TBI is bad, it can make these mental health problems worse. You might also have trouble with your memory and focus, which can be frustrating. TBI can also make it hard to keep friends and be around people, which can lead to feeling lonely. All these things together can make your mental health worse.

Can a Concussion Cause Mental Illness?

Concussions are generally considered mild compared to more severe TBIs. But they can still have a significant impact on mental health, as discussed earlier. But the mental illness following a single concussion is less common than in cases of moderate to severe TBIs.

The risk of developing a mental illness may be influenced by various factors. They include:

  • Individual Vulnerability. Some individuals may be more vulnerable to the psychological effects of concussions. It’s due to their unique brain chemistry, genetics, or pre-existing mental health conditions.
  • Severity of the Concussion. The severity of the concussion plays a role in the likelihood of developing a mental illness. More severe TBI are associated with a higher risk of getting mental health and other issues.
  • Repeated Concussions. Athletes and individuals in high-risk professions may be at greater risk. They can develop mental health issues.
  • Age and Developmental Stage. Children and adolescents may be more susceptible to the long-term effects. It’s because their brains are still developing.
  • Timely Treatment. Appropriate care after a concussion can help mitigate the risk of long-term issues.

a man at a doctor's appointment

Prevention and Treatment

Preventing concussions and TBIs is essential for protecting mental health. Here are some ways to prevent them:

  • Wear Protective Gear. In sports and activities where head injuries can happen, use helmets and mouthguards.
  • Safety Education. Teaching people about the risks of concussions and how to be safe is important.
  • Preventing Falls. To avoid TBI and mental health issues, make sure your home is safe to prevent falls. Remove things you could trip on and do exercises to keep your balance.
  • Vehicle Safety. Always use seat belts and child safety seats to lower the risk of TBIs in car accidents.

If someone does get a concussion or TBI, getting help early is vital:

  • Medical Checkup. If you think you have a concussion or TBI, see a doctor right away to know how bad it is and what to do.
  • Rest and Healing. Rest a lot at the beginning to help your brain heal. This is to avoid brain damage and mental illness.
  • Medicine. Sometimes, doctors give medicine to manage signs like headaches or sleep problems.
  • Brain Rehab. If you have trouble thinking, special programs can help you get better at memory.
  • Talk Therapy. Talking to a therapist, especially one who does CBT, can help if you feel sad or anxious.
  • Support. Your friends and family can help you feel better. Support groups and counseling can also be helpful.

Conclusion

Brain injuries and mental health issues are not isolated physical conditions. They have a profound impact on mental health. Concussions are generally considered mild compared to more severe TBIs. But they can still lead to a range of cognitive, emotional, and psychological signs. Repeated concussions and severe TBIs lead to increased risk of mental health issues.

Recognizing the connection between brain injuries and mental health is crucial. It’s for early intervention and treatment. Timely medical evaluation, rest, and appropriate care can significantly improve outcomes. Prevention measures can reduce the incidence of concussions and TBIs.

FAQ

How are brain injuries related to mental health issues?

Brain injuries are related to mental health issues through various mechanisms. These injuries can cause structural and chemical changes in the brain. They disrupt neurotransmitter balance and lead to emotional and cognitive symptoms. The psychological impact of coping with injuries can contribute to mental health disorders.

 

Can Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) lead to mental illness?

Yes, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can lead to mental illness. TBIs are associated with an increased risk of mental health disorders. It includes depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The disruption of brain function can contribute to the development of these conditions.

 

Is it possible for a concussion to cause mental illness?

A single concussion may not directly cause a mental illness in most cases. But it can contribute to symptoms. They’re mood changes, cognitive difficulties, and emotional disturbances. They can overlap with those of mental health disorders. And they may need careful evaluation and management. Multiple concussions can increase the risk of mental health issues over time.

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Lone Star Neurology
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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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